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Re: cowsay could attract copyright and trademark enforcement action

From: Cees de Groot
Subject: Re: cowsay could attract copyright and trademark enforcement action
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 2021 01:42:58 +0000

Can I be a little bit annoying here? I dabbled a lot in IP law, and the only thing I really learned is that what lay people like us think is probably not what lawyers have to say. I think it’s perfectly fine to just do nothing therefore. If an actual lawyer gets set on this package, it is early enough to take measures like removing the package. 

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On Fri, Jul 16, 2021 at 18:26, Leo Prikler <> wrote:
Am Donnerstag, den 15.07.2021, 13:06 +0200 schrieb Leo Prikler:
> Am Mittwoch, den 14.07.2021, 09:57 -0400 schrieb Bone Baboon:
> > [...]
> >
> > In this response to the pull request I submitted about the
> > questionable files in the cowsay repository
> > <
> >
> > apjanke is requesting feedback.
> >
> > > If there are any actual IP lawyers, relevant IP owners, or
> > > distributions who redistribute cowsay who would like to weigh in
> > > on
> > > this, I'd definitely like to hear what you have to say.
> >
> > For those who want to respond to apjanke but do not have or do not
> > want to use a GitHub account I can link this email thread in the
> > discussion about the pull request.
> I am not an IP lawyer, nor do I own any of said characters, but I'd
> like to point out that not all jurisdictions follow the US model. In
> Germany for example, you can (in the near future/already?) not use
> more than 160 characters of copyrighted material -- granted, the
> cowfiles are shorter than that, but copyright law is troubling over
> here in Europe nonetheless.
To expand on this, the 160 characters thing is a compromise, as
according to §51a of the UrhG the use of copyrighted material for the
purposes of caricature or parody is legal in Germany [1]. Vader koalas
would probably fall under this paragraph.

Now one could hypothesize that this applies to other parts of the EU as
well, but I wouldn't be too sure about that. The Austrian UrhG at
least to my untrained eyes and substring search appears to be lacking
such a right to parody our great mouse overlord.

As others point out, it is debatable whether or not such a trademark
can be enforced, but what we should be discussing -- and I'd be more
than happy to be wrong on this -- is whether or not the cowfiles can be
distributed under GPL-compatible terms/in accordance with the FSDG.



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